Syrian rebels have seized the main Armenian-populated districts in Syria’s largest city of Aleppo after weeks of heavy fighting with government forces, a diplomatic source in Yerevan claimed on Tuesday.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), the source monitoring developments there said the forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad pulled out of those neighborhoods late on Monday.
The information was not immediately confirmed by other sources. Some ethnic Armenians from Syria based in Yerevan insisted that those Aleppo districts remain under government control. One of them, Raffi Tashjian, said the rebels have so far captured only two districts adjacent to residential areas housing tens of thousands of Syrian Armenians.
Syrian Armenians arriving in Armenia in recent days have spoken of gun battles steadily approaching the Armenian-populated neighborhoods. Among them were passengers of the most recent Aleppo-Yerevan flight carried out late on Monday.
“Fighting has again reached Armenian areas. It’s very dangerous,” one man told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport.
“The situation is very bad, as bad as you can imagine,” said another Syrian Armenian. “We planned to come here for 15 days, but we may stay a bit longer,” he added.
Syria had an estimated 80,000 ethnic Armenian residents before the onset of the anti-government unrest early last year. The vast majority of them lived in Aleppo.
According to Armenia’s Foreign Ministry, at least ten Syrian Armenians have been killed during the conflict.